Friday, July 17, 2009

Creepy, Creepy, Creepy

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler
4.5Q 3P; Audience: J/S

Frozen Fire is creepy and atmospheric and had me completely engrossed. On a hot summer night, I got chills, and not just because of the suspense. You can almost feel the cold and the snow.

Imagine being alone in the house and getting a phone call (your number is unlisted) from a voice you don't recognize. The voice says, "I'm dying." The boy on the other end of the line sounds about your own age, maybe a year or two older. His voice is slurred and angry. He calls himself Josh. Your brother's name. Your missing brother's name. He's not your brother. But he knows things about you he should have no way of knowing. Creepy, right? Who is this boy? Why did he call her? What does he want?

He says he wants to die. But he can't die. Not yet. Not before he tells Dusty what he knows about Josh. He must know something about him. Why else would he have given her that name? How else would he know her secret nickname? How else would he know what Josh's last words to her were?

When Dusty rushes out into the snowy New Year's Eve night to find the boy, she discovers she's not the only one looking for him. Three vicious men with their equally vicious dogs are also after him. They threaten and terrify her. But they are all stymied in their attempts to find the boy. He has disappeared, literally without a trace. How could he have left no footprints in the snow?

Various people spot a mysterious figure on the paths, up in the mountains, and in and around town. The word is out: this boy is dangerous. He's responsible for horrible crimes. Stay away from him at all costs.

But Dusty can't stay away from him. How could she, knowing that he has the answers she's been desperate to find for so long? She finds him. Now she's more frightened than ever.

This isn't quite fantasy, and it's not supernatural, exactly, either. It's a blend of both, with suspense and mystery thrown in. It may not be everyone's cup of tea (some readers will be discomfited by some of the ambiguity and the British slang and style), but it's expertly told and a great choice for readers who like to be kept on edge. Readers may also want to look for Bowler's Storm Catchers. Bowler's books, including Frozen Fire, have won several awards in England.

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